A lesson from an interior design 'fail'

  • Published
  • By By 1st Lt. David Liapis
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Officer
You might be wondering why there is a boring photo of a poster board sitting on an easel associated with this article, and you should. Since when does quality Air Force photography look like this?

This picture, believe it or not, is really worth a thousand words (ok, maybe more like half of that). Here's why:

If you scroll through the photos, you'll notice one of the round graphic that's located on the bottom left of the poster board. Yes, it says, "1955-2005." I realized one day after walking past this picture on my way to the office that it has been there since I arrive here in September, 2012. I asked one of the photojournalists if it's been there since he arrived in 2011. He answered, "Yes." I dug even more and asked our host nation advisor who has been here for nearly 40 years if that poster has been on display since Incirlik Air Base's 50th anniversary in 2005. "Yes, it has been there since then," he confirmed.

Eight years. That's how long the dated photo has been sitting at the top of a stairwell in the 39th Air Base Wing headquarters building, unmoved, and, more than likely, unnoticed by hundreds, and even thousands of people who have walked by it week after week, year after year.

There's nothing exceptionally striking about this black and white image, and it's certainly not visually pleasing enough to justify keeping on display since the year Hurricane Katrina made history. It seems to me this is either the product of chronic neglect or a serious interior design "fail."

This got me thinking about the Air Force's current "Airmen Powered by Innovation" campaign that is running until June 1. If this picture can stay put for almost an entire decade while people unquestioningly see and ignore it daily, what else are we doing without question? What processes are in place that we comply with and tasks we complete and never stop to ask "why is it done this way?"

I'm not advocating "talking back" to our leadership flippantly or rebelling against all established procedures. However, I am proposing that we take a few moments as we accomplish the mission and think about what we are doing instead of just doing it. Just because it's "always been done that way" doesn't make it right or immune from improvement. That's like arguing the 50th anniversary poster doesn't need to be changed just because it's been there for so long.

I was thinking about implementing immediate change by taking the picture down, but I had a better idea. As part of the effort to save money, I'm thinking I'll just use a marker to turn the five into a six and use the poster board to advertise for the upcoming 60th anniversary. Now that's innovation!

All joking aside, finding the best way to do whatever it is we do is not only an opportunity afforded to us, it's our responsibility to each other, the American taxpayer and to the Air Force. Whether you submit proposals through the IDEA program, the Airmen Powered by Innovation campaign or change outdated posters in a stairwell, we all have the power to make positive change if we're willing to take the time to identify areas that can be improved and come up with innovative solutions.